Do we need 1,000 social care bodies for 5.3m people?

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Theresa Shearer says the foundations the social care sector in Scotland are built on are cracking and the sector must start talking about change

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14th October 2016 by TFN Guest 2 Comments

Two weeks ago on the eve of the government’s deadline for paying all social care staff the Scottish Living Wage of £8.25 I spoke out about the challenges Enable Scotland faced meeting it.

Writing with one day until the 1 October deadline, I revealed that we did not yet have clarification from all of the local authorities who contract us to provide social care support that we would be able to pay £8.25 to the staff we employ to provide that support. 

This did not sit comfortably. Our employees deserved better than to hear “we’re working on it”.  

Theresa Shearer

Theresa Shearer

You see, we don’t just want to pay the Scottish Living Wage to all our frontline staff for all waking hours. We also want staff to get the living wage for sleepovers too.

The Scottish Government wanted us to pay it to all of our social care staff and we at Enable Scotland wanted to do exactly that. It is the right thing to do.

In my blog I revealed we were locked in negotiations with 23 local authorities.

October 1 came and went and despite working round the clock and concluding negotiations with a number of councils for whom we provide services, one week later the picture was far from clear.

You see, we don’t just want to pay the Scottish Living Wage to all our frontline staff for all waking hours. We also want staff to get the living wage for sleepovers too.

As the deadline drew near we had told our employees the challenges we were facing. But we had also said we’d get back to them in seven days with further news. 

For reasons outlined in my previous post, negotiations with the 23 local authorities were never going to be straightforward.

But what emerged at our executive team meeting on Thursday 6 October was a potential multi-tier pay structure that threatened the very nature of Enable Scotland’s status as one of the largest truly national social care providers.

Our negotiations were at different stages with different authorities – not a great position when you have a talented and committed workforce who all deserve to expect equal treatment and fair pay, wherever they happen to work.

In reality, paying staff who do the same jobs different rates due to where they work was never an option for us. But we debated long and hard about what to do next.

Clearly negotiations – with excellent support from our colleagues at Unison – would continue. But what would we say to our staff? And more importantly, what would we do?

Earlier this week all 1,300 of our employees received a letter through their letterbox.

Paying our staff £8.25 for sleepovers without local authorities paying us more would add around £800,000 on to our payroll costs this year alone

This letter shared the good news that from 1 October all Enable Scotland staff  in every local council area across Scotland will be paid a minimum of the living wage rate of £8.25 for all day hours worked.

Writing today, two weeks on from my first blog post, and one week on from our executive team meeting, what’s changed? Answer: we’re getting there but there is still lots to do.

We want to pay more for sleepovers. Enable Scotland believes that all staff should be paid a fair wage for every hour they work.

But until we are further down the road with our negotiations with local authorities – which remains one of our key immediate priorities – there will be no change to current arrangements for Enable Scotland employees.

The reality for Enable Scotland is that paying all our staff £8.25 for sleepovers without local authorities paying us more to deliver our services would add around £800,000 on to our payroll costs this year alone. This would not be sustainable.

As such, we are continuing our conversations at the highest level to influence the thinking of local authorities and the Scottish Government on this issue.  

As a sector, we cannot go through this again. In fact, no one wants to go through this again.

I know from conversations I have had across all key stakeholders that there have been lessons learned on all sides. 

Everyone – local authorities, Scottish Government, the voluntary sector – knows that things need to get better. On that we all agree.  

It’s not a popular message but if the last month shows anything it’s that the foundations on which the social care sector in Scotland is built are cracking.

But the important point now is that we have to come together now to talk about solutions. I explore the issues in more detail in my previous blog post but I’ll end on this note. As a sector, we need to think differently. 

The time for reviews has been and gone. There’s less money and more demand for our services and that just isn’t going to change.

Yet there remains 1,000 providers of adult social care services across the private and voluntary sectors in Scotland. For a country of 5.3 million people – that’s a lot.

It’s not a popular message but if the last month shows anything it’s that the foundations on which the social care sector in Scotland are built are cracking.

And if we don’t do something about it now, it’ll be the people we support who suffer.

Let’s get talking about change.

Theresa Shearer is chief executive of Enable Scotland and on the board of directors of  the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Comments

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19th October 2016 by Christina

"But what emerged at our executive team meeting on Thursday 6 October was a potential multi-tier pay structure that threatened the very nature of Enable Scotland’s status as one of the largest truly national social care providers." "Yet there remains 1,000 providers of adult social care services across the private and voluntary sectors in Scotland. For a country of 5.3 million people – that’s a lot."In other words, there should be fewer services so that large national organisations, like Enable, get more money. How, exactly, does the process described in this article show that of the social care sector are cracking? Or that the situation has been difficult for anyone other than Enable? How would a reduction in the number of services available for people to chose from help anyone other than Enable? There are a lot of small organisations because many of them provide specialist, local support for people. Reduce them and you reduce the choice that people have in who they go to for help. Which is great for Enable, but not good for people who need support.

19th October 2016 by L. Shaw

Fails to mention that workers are penalised for working overtime within the company, "top up arrears"taken away from those doing working hours over their contract. Still trying to work out how many hours I've worked for nothing. Cant be many people who want to work for free!